Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The prayers of an evangelical textual critic...

I guess that evangelical textual critics pray, and that some of them pray about their work. Are there any examples of good things to pray for/about if you are an evangelical textual critic?


  1. 'May He who, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, gave forth that Scripture which is able to make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, bless this endeavour to exhibit the text of the New Testament in the very words in which it has been transmitted on the evidence of ancient authority.'

    Guess who?

  2. James, I can assure you that Anglicans don't have a monopoly on good prayers. I reckon this excellent liturgy is inspired by the "Plymouth" Brethren (SPT) - at least that was what a Google search on 'transmitted on the evidence of ancient authority' appeared to suggest.

  3. Perhaps you are both correct.

    The answer is S.P. Tregelles. Originally of the brethren, later thought to have 'become' an Anglican.

    PJW is right to think that 'transmitted on the evidence of ancient authority' is a trademark Tregellesism. It is interesting that he didn't (here) say 'bless this endeavour to exhibit the text of the New Testament in the very words in which it was originally given'.


  4. Googling renders such quizes otiose.

  5. So does the Tregelles-inspired prayer cut to the heart of what an evangelical textual critic should pray? Is the prayer too modest in only seeking 'the very words in which it has been transmitted'? How could 'bless' in this prayer be unpacked?

  6. All good prayers are anglican (even if baptists won't admit it). Praying well is a sign of the desire to convert. Anyway...

    (1) I am not even sure what is meant by 'the very words in which it has been transmitted' means.

    (2) In line with my agnosticism about the existance of evangelical text criticism as opposed to evangelical text critics I'd be tempted to pray for the general skills needed for the work: patience, caution, concentration, and so on.

    (4) I suppose that under 'bless' you would want to mean at least 'guide by your Holy Spirit'. Since we think that HS was involved in the process of writing, it is not unreasonable to ask him to help us discern what he had written.

    [Which leads me to a tangent: if we hold that the writers of scripture were not always conscious of the process of inspiration, need text critics expect any more than the common grace needed for the task, as well as providential guiding and the occasional Holy Gost Hunch? Perhaps we should pray for those too]

  7. James, I'm finding that I need to do a fair amount of textual conjecture to read your postings. As an evangelical textual critic I'm not very used to making textual conjectures ;-)

    I suppose that within historic evangelical theology one could imagine arguing that all writers were conscious of being inspired as they wrote (prooftext: 2 Pet. 1:21), though obviously this is not necessary. Even being conscious of being inspired need not entail more than being conscious that God has chosen to speak through one at a particular time. The writer need not have any inkling of the future usage of their book as part of a wider canon. About the only thing that one would have to be conscious of is the truth of what one was saying and thus its connection with God.

  8. Here's an attempt to answer my own question in point format:
    - thanks to God for the provision of His word;
    - thanks to God for those who have given their lives (whether as martyrs or meticulous copyists) so that His word should be available to us now;
    - thank God for such a wealth of attestation of his word;
    - pray that the printing of the Hebrew OT and Greek NT text should represent the text that God gave as closely as possible;
    - pray for said printed text to be multiplied and fruitful as people read and heed it;
    - pray that the God-given text may be recognised by all.

    Any more wishes?